Tips for Avoiding Crazy Cab Rides

Plus what to do when your neighbor turns on the light during a red-eye flight.

Jan. 6, 2011— -- Question: What do you do if you get in a cab, start traveling to your destination, and then find out the driver a) is crazy, b) has terrible body odor, c) drives like a maniac or d) all of the above?

Answer: Oh, I see you and I have been getting the exact same cab drivers. Wasn't the guy who took his hands off the wheel to dance to the music on the radio awesome? I can't decide if he was my favorite or if I preferred the guy who was snacking on something crunchy that smelled an awful lot like cat food.

Anyway, what you should do depends on how bad the situation is. If the driver's doing something unsafe, don't hesitate to tell him you want to get out right then and there. It's better to be late than to get into an accident. But if it's just unpleasant, you might want to put on headphones or open a window and try to deal with it. It's really a judgment call.

Question: I was in a bar recently and ordered a draft beer. It tasted terrible. (It's a beer I order relatively frequently, so I know how it should taste.) I told the bartender and asked if I could have something else instead. He took a sip of my beer -- I really couldn't believe that -- and pronounced it totally fine. He then said that if I really wanted something else, he'd get it, but he implied that I didn't know what I was talking about.

I was on a date, and I was embarrassed. That bartender was way out of line, right? And what could I have done? I didn't really want to make a big deal out of it in front of my date, but I was mad.

Answer: He took a sip out of your drink? That's really gross, and yes, it's unacceptable. Even if he doubted your assessment of the beer, he shouldn't have questioned you, and if he wanted to taste it, he should have poured himself a taste in a brand-new glass.

I'm with you on not making a big deal of it in front of your date, though. I'd probably say something like, "Wow, can you believe this guy?" when the bartender's out of earshot … and then let it go. And of course, someone who gives you that kind of attitude doesn't deserve a generous tip.

Question: Is it rude to use your reading light on a red-eye flight? My sister and I are having an argument about this. We both travel a lot for work and spend a lot of time discussing our pet peeves. I say it's fine; she says it really bugs her when she's trying to sleep and the person next to her puts on their light.

Answer: I can understand being annoyed if the person next to you keeps turning their light on and off every two minutes, but I think it's fine if they just turn it on and leave it on. If your sister can't sleep when the person next to her is using their light, she should bring an eye mask.

Lesley Carlin has been writing professionally about travel and etiquette for more than 10 years. As one of the Etiquette Grrls, she is the co-author of "Things You Need to Be Told" and "More Things You Need to Be Told" (Berkley). Have a travel etiquette question of your own? E-mail Lesley at